The Undead - Chapter I (In Progress)

The Undead - Chapter I (In Progress)

A Chapter by Sens3mann

Edit 2, 05/05/11: Added a battle-reference for commander starks wound. Added 1 additional page.


Twenty years ago

What magic is it? That keeps me walking, talking and thinking, like a human. Yet forces me, To destroy and kill, Ravage and feed, Until all that is left in this world, Is me and my insatiable Hunger. I Curse it! This cruelty.”

She once said to me, without emotion as if she was already devoid of them but still wanted to have them with her rational mind. It was so painful to see her like that, She who had given me so much, everything really, fighting herself and loosing.

- “Fighting a lost Fight”

Combined Records of Astrid miller on her journey with The dark Empress.

With a rattling breath, consciousness slowly returned to her body. Eyes still to unfocused to see she drew another rattling breath. The first thoughts started to return to her and she remembered her name.

Ada tried to recall more, where she was, what had happened, why she felt so tired despite having just awoken. Why was it so cold?

It was so cold.

Her whole body felt numb, she tried moving it to get a better circulation of her blood but it didn't seem to have any effect. All her senses told her that she was freezing to death.
She needed to get up and somewhere warmer, fast, or surely she would never wake up again.
Her arms felt leaden as if she hadn't used them for a long time and her joints ached, but she managed to turn herself around and get onto all fours. Her sight was still blurred and all she could see was deathly, blue, darkness. She turned her head around to see if she could find something to warm herself up.

She was in a narrow alley and at the end she spotted a ray of sunlight, she didn't take much notice of anything else apart from that. There was no snow which surprised her, how could it be so cold without snow?

She started crawling towards the light of the sun and its promise of warmth, every single motion came somehow jerky and ungraceful, perhaps it was the cold?

Finally she made it into the sunlight.

It was bliss.

It was as if all of her body-warmth returned instantly.

It felt like being embraced by... by...

Who? She tried to remember but nothing else returned.

She realized that she didn't remember anything apart from her name. She hoped more of her memory would return once she was warmer.

Her eyes started to work properly as her warmth returned, her arm's where still deathly pale and covered in minor wounds, it was a good thing that she was numb from the cold, or else it would have robbed her of the use of her arms.

Her surrounding where even more torn up then her arms. She stood in the middle of what appeared to have been a city sometime before it was horribly ransacked and burnt.
The alley she had come from was actually nothing more than the remains of two parallel walls no longer then a few feet. All wood that wasn't a pile of ash was at least marked by fire one way or the other. The street was filled with rubble and the dead and the buildings where nothing more than a few smouldering ruins. It would have been a grand city if it was still standing.

On one of the buildings in her immediate vicinity there was a sign hanging only on one side, but Ada could still make out the lettering. It read “Welcome to Orebruck”.
Something or someone definitely unwelcome seemed to have passed through here not a long time ago, at least a week, at most two.

Ada was warm again but something still did not feel right to her, she looked down and froze, not from cold like before but by the sheer incredulity.

Right beneath her chest there was a two foot long end of an arrow jutting out from between her ribs. Stunned Ada looked down at the arrowhead.

It didn't make any sense.

Shouldn't she be feeling something? Pain? Anything? How did this even happen? had she been here while Orebruck had been attacked? Weren't people with an arrow lodged in their chest usually in a lot of pain or... dead?

Panicked Ada grabbed the end with both her hands, she just wanted to get it out of her body, it didn't matter how. She tugged on it as hard as she could but the tip had hooked itself on one of her ribs. With her pulling and shaking she had managed to tear the wound further open, but it didn't even bleed. With a sudden loud snap the arrow broke with the iron tip and a few inches of wood still inside of her.

Ada stopped, she felt like losing her mind, well at least the parts that she could still remember, she was alive she knew it, she could walk, feel (to a certain degree) and think. She should be dead but she was alive. Somehow.

Or was she?

Ada felt her wrist for a pulse, but she couldn't find one. She felt her breath but no air escaped her lungs. She felt her heart which did not beat.

Sitting down on a large boulder, she was just making it worse, she didn't have any memories, she didn't know who she was, where to go. And judging from all signs she had already been dead for some time.

Ada pulled her knees to her chest and hugged them close to her, she just wanted to cry.
But the dead don't have any tears to shed.

* * *

Ada looked at the sun, she still had an hour or two before she had to make camp.
She had to keep a close watch for when it was getting dark, with the darkness the cold always returned. The first night she didn't even have a fire, she had very nearly gone insane.
When she had been a small girl, she had fallen into a lake in winter, her brother had carried her all the way home, the short distance had taken him more than an hour. An hour in which she had very nearly frozen to death.

That first night had felt worse than that, she was constantly cold without the numbness she had experienced as a child and she couldn't do anything about it.

She had tried moving around, to get her circulation going, until she remembered that her heart wasn't even beating, she couldn't make a fire she didn't dare go outside, so she had just settled for a lot of blankets and constantly rubbing her thighs.

It has been a week since she left Orebruck and she still hadn't met another person, a lot of corpses but nothing else. She had come through a few smaller villages, some had been ravaged but most had just been empty, like the residents had picked up everything they owned and gotten out as fast as their legs would carry them.

Some of her memory's had come back, but only of her early childhood, nothing else.

The past week she had thought about what she should do, she knew she couldn't possibly go back to her old life, who would take her in? She was dead for crying out loud!

But she wanted to know who she was, if she had family, a husband... or a child, what she was doing in Orebruck, she knew she didn't live there, if nothing else.

She figured with so many refugees there would be some sort of system, by the government, for finding their relatives, all she needed to do was find a city that wasn't in the process of burning to the ground.

It wasn't all bad at least, she didn't feel fatigue any more, she could spend the whole day walking, even running and she wouldn't be the slightest bit out of breath.
Figuratively speaking.

She was far stronger than she should be, a house had collapsed on top of her and she had just stood up like the crushing weight on top of her was nothing.

She didn't need nourishment any more. She hadn't known that when she set out first, she didn't only not feel hungry, she didn't even have a sense of taste any more.
At night her eyes were as sharp as they were in daylight, although at night she was essentially colour-blind.

Though she'd rather be alive then any of those things.

Thankfully she hadn't started to decompose like you'd expect of a normal corpse.

She had tried eating some meat, she figured even if she didn't need it she might as well enjoy it. It was like eating tasteless, squishy paste. While being far from enjoyable she couldn't even stomach it.

She had learned something about herself the past week, before she had died she had probably been a scout or a fighter. At least somebody who was trained to survive on their own, she knew how to handle a sword and a bow, she could read tracks and she knew where to find useful things.

Just then Ada thought she had heard something, she stopped walking and listened.


There it was again! Like a distant scream.

Ada started to run for a large boulder and without loosing a stride she leaped for the top, from there she looked around, If the owner of that scream was further away then she could spot from up here, they were out of her reach.

Between the trees perhaps a mile away she could see a figure being pursued by a handful of people.

Jumping down the other side of the boulder, she immediately began running when she hit the ground. It wasn't so much the thought of helping another human being that hurried her on, rather than finally meeting someone alive who could bring some light into the darkness that was her life.

Breaking through the thicket, she saw the pursued person, it was only a little girl perhaps twelve or thirteen. The four people pursuing her were grown men! Odd men she noticed with a second glance, men covered in dried blood, every single one of them seemed out of their mind with rage and... and one was missing an arm.

Drawing her sword she swung it in a wide arc aiming for the first ones neck, taking his head of cleanly which flew to the side somewhere in the thicket, he did another two steps before he fell to the ground.

The three others now perceiving the threat turned their attention towards her, threateningly baring their teeth, crouching ready to jump. But she was already upon them, cutting, slashing severing limbs.

When she was finished with the last one she stood in the middle of the gory pile of human flesh splattered with blood.

It was rapture.

She had just cut four men to pieces and even though they were dead, she should have felt nausea at the task not... not lust. Even now that it was over she wanted nothing more then to rip the remains apart even further, Ada had to exert a lot of self control to keep from furiously chopping at the motionless body's.

After a minute or so she finally calmed down, to the degree that she didn't feel like chopping at them maniacally any more, she still wanted to spit on them. Turning around she looked for the little girl, who was curiously peeking at her from behind a log.
She had green eyes. A memory flashed and was gone.

Her hair was brown and long, not trimmed short like Ada's.

She still seemed to be frightened to the bone, not surprising, after all Ada was a stranger who had suddenly broken through the woods, maniacally swinging a sword around, chopping four people to bits and after that, having a hard time to banish a look of hunger from her face while eyeing the mangled corpses.

Sheathing her sword, she squatted and held out her arm's “come on, come here”

The girl looked at her rather doubtful.

I won't hurt you I promise”

Her eyes narrowed and she still didn't move, feeling safe behind her wall of brittle wood.
Ada looked up at the sky, she didn't have long any more, she needed to gather wood for the night or she'd freeze again.

Looking at the girl she said “fine, stay there if you want to, little one. But I advise you to find something warm for the night or you'll freeze to death, it's not snowing yet, but it is too cold to spend the night outside without so much as a coat.”

With that she turned around and started to search for a good site to camp.

* * *

Ada sat in front of the fire absent-mindedly poking in the ember of the fire with a long, wooden stick.

She had found a rather nice place really, it was a natural cave on a slope underneath a tree, the trees roots made a good frame, holding up the earth. The entrance was rather small while the cave was rather spacious deeper inside. There was a hole of about half a meter at the top, which worked rather well in releasing the smoke.

First she had dug a round, shallow hole in the middle, after gathering enough wood to last the night she had stacked a few branches like a tent, stashed some dried hay in the middle and started a small fire with her flint and her knife. After it was big enough to survive on it's own for a time she grabbed her bow and went hunting.

It was already dark so she began freezing after only a short time, but after a short while she had two rather nice specimens hanging from her hip.

Back inside she skinned and gutted the rabbits, the entrails she threw in the fire, the skins she hang to dry under tension near the entrance away from the fire and the rabbits themselves she placed above the fire, upon which they shortly began to smell divine.
That moment she was so frustrated that she couldn't actually eat anything but still had to smell something so delicious.

Soon after putting up the Rabbits she had noticed a green pair of eyes at the entrance, filled with longing.

The girl had watched her the whole time and Ada had played oblivious, which had proven to be harder than her hunt for the rabbits, since the little girl was falling over every other step, she was snapping branches and crunching leaves beneath her feet.

Ada thought she would have noticed her even if she had no other sense at her disposal other than smell.

Now she only had to wait for the girls hunger to overcome her fear, Ada knew she couldn't force her, she would bolt like a deer smelling a pack of wolfs and while Ada would certainly catch her in the end, it would serve no purpose.

Instead she thought she should probably give her another, more subtle push.
The rabbits were about ready anyway, drawing her knife she cut out a bigger piece of meat and forced herself to bite into it.

Chewing Ada said “Hmm, this tastes sooo good!”, It didn't. It was like chewing something nasty and squishy, she forced herself to swallow and took another bite.

She needed the girl to come in soon, she didn't think she could stomach another mouthful, somehow she didn't think her throwing up was any incentive to try the food.

Patting her stomach she leaned back “puhh, I can't POSSIBLY eat all this ALONE”

She peeked at the girl from the corner of her eye, who now realized she had been spotted.

Promisingly she didn't shy away, instead she tentatively moved closer.

Ada now looked directly at her and held out the piece she was eating “won't you help me eat this?”

Now dropping all forms of timid behaviour whatsoever, she reached for the meat sat down, still a good deal away from her, and began to eat at an alarming pace.

Rather satisfied with herself Ada watched her eat, she quickly finished the first piece so Ada cut and passed her another piece, which she started to eat at a slower pace.

Watching her eat, Ada wondered if she had any children, she thought it unlikely since she was a warrior, but she couldn't be sure. A husband perhaps?

A memory flashed in her mind, a picture of a man with dark hair, a neatly trimmed beard covered most of his face and the most sparkling green eyes that always seemed about to smile. The memory made her feel at ease.

The green eyed girl had finished her second piece and was so openly staring at the last half of the rabbit, she might as well have thrown rock's at Ada's head.

Not bothering to cut off another piece, Ada just gave her the rest of Rabbit number one, in which she sank her teeth without hesitation.

She wondered who he was, to make her feel so peaceful, just thinking about him.

Ada wanted to know, she wanted to know so badly it almost hurt.

Sleep seemed to overcome the girls hunger, she nodded off a couple of times while chewing, until finally she lay on the side with the remains of the rabbit still between her teeth.

Watching the rise and fall of the girls chest while she was slowly breathing in her sleep made her a little jealous. After removing the bone from her mouth, Ada covered her with her fur coat , she froze with her hands still on the coat.

On her exposed neck Ada could see her pulse, her life drumming an enticing melody against her skin, it was welcoming her, drawing her in. It begged for her to sink her teeth deep inside and rip it open!

She wanted nothing more in her life than to savagely rip her to shreds and she needed every little inch of self control to stop herself.

It was a silent struggle and bitter-sweet torture.

Letting go of the coat and backing away Ada covered her hand with her mouth. What was wrong with her? She just spent an evening saving, feeding and covering this sweet child and yet she wanted nothing more than to bite and claw at her until her smouldering desire was satisfied.

Even though she wanted to be she wasn't even disgusted by herself.

* * *

The fire was slowly dying, it wasn't much more than a heap of glowing ash with a flame occasionally sticking out it's tongue before retreating again.

Not that it was needed any more, the sun had been up for a couple of hours, but the fire made her feel nostalgia, it made her think about the limitation of things.

People are like fire, they start small, grow strong, burn brightly in all their glory and in the end they shrivel up and die. This certainly seemed like the end of humanity. What made her feel worse is that she couldn't actually claim to still be part of it.

Dragging herself away from sorrowful thoughts, she noticed green eyes looking at her from beneath a coat of fur, filled with pity. Ada wondered why a small, defenceless girl with no one in the world would look at her of all people with pity.

Finally awake are we?” she asked.

The little girl looked at her unwaveringly and nodded slightly.

you're not going to talk are you?” Ada asked.

She just stared.

Sighing Ada said “well, under current circumstances it's probably unnecessary to ask you where your parents are” by the drop of her head She could see the accuracy of her statement.

any idea if there's a place where someone's left alive?”

With her head still cast down she shook her head.

I feel like I'm talking to myself” After a moment of silence Ada got up “well, no sense in hanging around, there has to be someone still alive and I doubt we're going to have much luck finding them here.”

* * *

A knock at his Door woke Commander Stark.

He had fallen asleep on his desk again writing orders and letters, so many, many letters, he needed more forces or all his men, all his people would be lost.

He wasn't angry that he was forced from his sleep, the only thing he saw in his dreams these days was fire, pillage and death. The creator knew he saw enough of that in his waking hours to make a man weep. The truth was he just didn't have enough energy to manage it.

He was thankful that... those things only attacked in mass during the night, they didn't seem to know fatigue, so even that much was a blessing.

come in” he said with a dry rasp. His voice hadn't been the same since he was hit by a burning arrow in the throat during the Rinari bandit raids, but he was lucky to be alive.

The door burst open revealing an agitated man in leather armour, a scout, what was his name again, tom something? Thomson? Thomerson!

Thomerson, what is it? Any new developments at the front?”

Sir they are moving again, against Stanford's Troops to the east”

Damn... Very well, grab something to eat and then rest, I'm sending you out again tomorrow, dismissed”

But Thomerson didn't leave.

Is there something else?” Stark Asked.

Sir, if... if you would just let me go, I could find out what happened to our Regiment at Orebruck, I can get through the enemy forces, I Know I can” He pleaded.

Stark slammed his fist on the table “Enough Soldier! We had no reports From Orebruck for weeks, every scout we send behind enemy lines we might as well have murdered ourselves. Orebruck is lost and so are our Forces that were stationed there!”

Thomerson, stood rigid with his head cast down, he slowly lifted it and Stark could see the tears in the man's eyes “Sir, my wife was waiting for me in Orebruck” he said pleadingly.

Stark looked at him for a moment, it reminded him so much of his own loss, but he didn't have time for remorse, he was the Commanding Officer, he needed to set an example “She is dead. Slaughtered by the enemy. The enemy who is pushing us back. You are a soldier, you can fight the people.... the things that did this. You have to, or the death of your wife, of everyone in Orebruck and since will be for nothing.”

Tears were flowing down Thomersons face, he didn't say anything but Stark could see that the fight had gone out of him “Dismissed”

Thomerson saluted and left with a smart turn. He was a good soldier, Stark momentarily thought about relieving him of his duty but then dismissed the notion, he just didn't have enough men, besides Thomerson needed to be occupied, too much time to think about the things he couldn't change and a man would break.

Stark needed him whole, needed a dozen more like Thomerson actually, but wishful thinking never got you anywhere.

He needed more men, all he could do was pull back further and further every day and evacuate as many people as possible, his superiors had refused to send more troops, blaming him for the current situation. Blaming him for not repelling another Invasion of a jealous neighbouring country.

Once again Stark cursed the bureaucratic fools who refused him more men, they weren't here, they didn't see the dead rising, kill their former comrades, peel the flesh of their skin and howl in such an unearthly fashion, screaming their fury, their rage against the living into the nights sky. Stark knew a man who hadn't seen it for himself, smelled it and felt it couldn't understand it. The fear, the damnation they were facing.

In his gut he knew this was a fight for humanity survival and as things were, they were loosing it.

Determined he returned to write his last letter, If the Power-hungry idiots in the court wouldn't listen, perhaps the King would.

* * *

Lieutenant Stanford slammed the hilt of his sword in the face of one of his former sergeants, who fell to the ground, with a downward slash he took of his head.

With the bloody sword he pointed at the gaping hole in the wall calmly he said to one of the messengers around him “order to the reserve, I want that hole closed with pikeman and archers behind them, tell them to create a wall, I don't care what they use, tell them to salvage the homes of the civilians for tables and cupboards if necessary, or we're all dead”

The man ran off without a word.

Lieutenant Stanford” shouted a man who came running, he had bite-marks on his arms and a cut on his temple “Lieutenant Stanford, the north front is in chaos Sergeant Briggs Screams about his arms and now the Corporals won't coordinate appropriately we need a higher ranked officer or our defences will crumble”

what happened to him?”

nothing, he has ten shiny fingers on his hands like any other person but he screams as if they're gone”

Stanford cursed, then looked at the man´s shoulder “Corporal... Williams am I right?” Williams nodded.

Bending down Stanford cut the Sergeant emblem from the headless corpse and pinned it to Williams arm “Congratulations, you have just been promoted, now hold the north front on your own or I will hang whatever's left of your body If we get out of this alive”

Yes sir” Williams said before running off.

Screams and a roar that froze his blood filled his ears, it came from the hole where he had just sent his pikemen for reinforcement. Seemed as if that had been a mistake for now they were all dead, he was about to ask what the hell happened when a giant body stepped through the hole.

It was heavily muscled and carried a sword as long as a man, it had impressive fangs red from blood and two horns on its head curled like a ram, it's skin seemed to be the skin of dead body's sewn together. Stanford had no other word for it then “Demon”

Archers bring down that thing! Reserve swordsman attack!” He ran forward to meet with the unusual opponent and could barely duck beneath a swing from it's giant sword. Other men weren't as lucky, body-parts and blood filled the air, everything turned red as he was showered in blood and gut's. He took a swing at its thick legs, he needed to bring it down to get at it's head.

His sword sank deeply into the flesh but got stuck, cursing he dodged a swing of a hand the size of his torso, lying flat on his back Lieutenant Stanford saw his end coming at him in the form of it's rough sword, more of a giant slab of steel really.

Just when he thought it was over burning arrow's filled the air and stuck the giant's chest, with the almost severed leg it caused the giant to loose balance and fall, the tremor almost made him fall over again, quickly he freed his blade from the monsters leg and sliced into it's neck with all his power over and over again until it's head was completely removed from it's body.

Letting the soldiers take over he returned to his point of observation, from where he overlooked the battle a messenger was already waiting for him.

The Man Saluted and said “sir I have a letter from Commander Stark for you”

give me that” Stanford growled as he swiped the letter from the man´s hand, not caring for the blood he spread over it as he broke the seal and opened it he began to read.

Stanford I just received information that the undead will move against you next -“no s**t” Stanford mumbled.- You need to pull out and retreat to Crows head, send a messenger to address earl Morgan of the impending danger and that they need to fortify the city, he's a good man and knows how to handle a city's defence. You will follow his orders from now on, he's a capable leader.

You should be able to get there in three days if you hurry.

I wish you luck my friend,

Commander Stark

Stanford sighted, he was already having enough trouble trying not to be overrun, how was he supposed to retreat his position without all his men dying?

He grabbed the messengers tunic and pulled him down to his face “Take this letter bring it to Crow's head, directly to Earl Morgan, I want it to reach him in two days”

The messenger looked at him as if he'd lost his mind “but sir! Even on a fresh horse it would take at least three days”

I don't care how you do it, I don't care if you kill that horse and I don't care if you steal every horse from here to crow's head to do it, so don't waste another second complaining about it!”

Without so much as a salute he rode off towards Crow's head, and Stanford wouldn't have it any other way.

orders to all front's set the barricades on fire, pack up only the essentials and get everyone out of here, small groups only, separately to crows head we'll make a stand there! Now!”

Half a dozen soldiers jumped, to obey his orders

He grabbed a soldier by the arm and said “you, take the fastest horse you can find, take provisions with you and get yourself to Commander Starks camp, tell him about that” he pointed at the giant husk “tell him I think they are evolving, tell him what happened here and make it quick sleep and eat in the saddle if you have to” he shoved him away “go!”

The soldier ran, leaving him alone on the hill looking at the burning barricades and retreating soldiers. A sound made him look down The severed head of his former sergeant was baring it's teeth at him, gnawing, even in that state it was still trying to bring his death.

Impaling it on the tip of his sword he waited for it to be still. Defeat tastes bitter thought lieutenant stanford, but twice so against such monstrosities

Spitting on the ground he turned around and followed his soldier, the next three days didn't promise to be any better than tonight.

* * *

Ada knew what the Screams meant, and from the shivering of the little girl on her back, she knew as well. After walking for a mile or so the girl had gotten tired, so Ada decided to carry her, she felt like she didn't weight anything at all and the additional warmth on her back helped her to stay sane.

Apart from the additional warmth she was really starting to be a pain, she needed to stop frequently to eat, sleep, drink and pee, and got exhausted after walking a couple of miles. Ada was seriously considering to leave her behind, she would have but she was afraid she only considered it because she was losing her humanity.

So instead Ada desperately held on to her.

hold on tight” she told the girl on her back as she started to climb a tree for a better viewpoint.

Her strength and agility had increased over the last few days, as if her soul was getting used to her “new” body, that is if she even still had something remotely like a soul.

Bending a twig out of her line of sight she could see the heavily fortified village, apparently they had thought they stood a better chance behind walls and judging from the number of rotting corpses all around so far they had done a fine job.

That is until something broke through their fortified barricade like it was made of toothpicks, from what she could hear it sounded like the fight was still going on, but not for long judging from the large force just waiting to get inside.

Soon everyone in that village would be dead and Ada didn't plan to stick around to listen to their screams and sobs, she wanted to help them, but there wasn't much she alone could do, they had sealed their own fate when they decided to remain in enemy territory.

She was just about to climb back down when she heard something else then screaming, something much more closely, like someone breathing erratically. Looking down she saw him, or rather... it.

On first glance it looked human, but only on first glance, it limbs were thinner and longer than a humans, the arms even longer then the legs, as if it would use all it's limbs for running, the skull was deformed as if someone had pulled on the nose to achieve the cruel imitation of a snout.

From the rapid movement of it's head Ada figured that it wasn't so much breathing as sniffing, trying to catch a scent of whatever was hiding in these woods.

Instinctively Ada knew that this thing was a lot more dangerous than the out of their minds with rage husk's she had fought before, this thing was smart, careful and anticipating.

It moved carefully through the wood's and only stopped at the bottom of the tree she was sitting on, where it started sniffing excitedly.

Ada quietly drew her knife, as the sword would be useless in the confined space of the branches and readied herself should the beast look up.

Walking in circles around the tree and sniffing for a hint of where they went, it stopped occasionally to sniff a point of interest more closely, it's head was beginning to follow the trunk of the tree upwards when it suddenly turned it's head and leaped off into a different direction howling madly, probably in pursuit of easier prey.

Breathing a sigh of relief Ada sheathed her knife again, this place was way to dangerous for her taste, it was past time they were on their way out of here, hopefully the fortified village would be distraction enough for them to slip by the bulk of the force unnoticed.

Jumping down the six meters from the tree she started moving the moment she hit the ground, the little girl on her back holding on for dear life.

The woods were their best bet, once on the road or the open space around the village and they would be visible from miles away.

Although she didn't feel fatigue, running would cause too much noise, a quick walking pace would have to do. Over the treetops Ada could see massive clouds of smoke, apparently whoever was in that village had given up on it and lit it on fire, an effective tactic considering how many dead had entered.

The wood grew thicker with every step she took and it was a good thing that it did, a large force couldn't move in this thicket as easily.

Her sense of smell was impaired by all the smoke, so it came as quite a surprise when the end of a sword was pressed against her throat, by a bulky man who had hidden behind a tree slightly more bulky than himself.

Reacting as fast as lightening she knocked the sword away on one of it's flat sides, spun around and squatted with on leg stretched out, to kick him of his feet. At the same time she drew her knife and as he hit the ground she was already on him, her hand on his throat and her knife about to enter through his left eye.

It would have, if someone hadn't caught her hand by the wrist.

She felt three other blades pressing against her neck and as she looked up she saw half a dozen rangers pointing arrows at her head. It was an undesirable position to be in to say the least.

One of them stood over the little green eyed girl who had fallen off during the scuffle, who was to frozen with fear to move a uscle anyway.

Ada was just considering how exactly she would get herself out of this mess when a tired sounding voice said “lower your weapon, there are more than enough dead already, for us to add to their numbers”

The man stepping into view had the clothes of a ranger, black, green and brown, he was tall and his auburn hair was tied together in the nape of his neck, a shadow of a beard was beginning to form on his face. He would have been quite handsome if it wasn't for the dark rings beneath his eyes and the blood, ash and dirt covering him from head to toe.

Ada knew there were times when you had to fight, but being surrounded and outnumbered one to ten wasn't one of those times.

Letting the man holding her wrist disarm her she said “It would be much appreciated if you could extend me the same courtesy”

The man who was apparently their leader just stared at her impassively.

Ada knew what the look meant, he was in the position of power and he knew what he was doing, she didn't have a choice. What he was basically saying with his unrelenting stare, was that she just had to take her chances.

Cursing silently, she slowly moved her hand with the knife away from the man she was sitting on, who's expression changed from anxiousness to relief, as she dropped the knife on the forest floor.

The pressure of the blades on her neck remained constant as she was slowly standing up, one of the rangers helped the bulky man to his feet, who in turn moved as far away from her as he could.

uh, the removal of your mens swords from my neck would be much appreciated” He motioned for his men to release her, looking her up and down before he began to speak “I don't know who you are and at the moment I don't much care. You wan't to live, you come with us.”

Ada looked at his men for a moment, all of them seemed exhausted or injured, most of them had dark rings under their eyes and being covered in dirt und blood gave them a look of defeat.

thanks” she said “but at the moment you and your men are the greatest threat for me, so I don't think so”

What other choice do you have? The way you're heading is to the Malethian Pass, which by now is filled with every undead from the borderlands of Tuneva, we are talking about millions of undead. And other... things. Things you can't even imagine. What was your plan exactly? To battle yourself through hordes of undead and march into Crows head like it's not under constant siege by a tireless enemy?”

Hearing it like that made her notice that she hadn't exactly thought her plan out very well, even though she was technically one of them the undead she had encountered so far didn't seem to have a problem with attacking her, or perhaps that only was because of the little green eyed girl.

Ada looked up “So what's your plan, you think can get us out of here alive?”

The Malethian pass is the only way wide enough for a large force to cross the Virarnion mountain range, however there are several smaller paths over the mountains, one of them, the Escaia, is only a few days from here”

When he mentioned the name a memory returned to her “I know it, and quite frankly, your plan is no less suicidal than mine, even under optimal conditions the Escaia is a death trap, if you haven't noticed it's just a week from snowing maybe less. Conditions on the Virarnion in winter are almost as bad as in the Tundras of Itia, the cold will be so bad that you'll freeze within minutes, if you breathe to deeply your lungs will get coldburns.” looking at the sandals of the soldiers she said “and with equipment like that you will have lost all your toes before you're even half way up”

He opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a maliciously excited howl.

The Rangers shifted their attention towards the surrounding wood, their leader standing tall for a moment, squinting and listening, before he turned to her once more “This is neither the time nor the place to discuss this, you're coming with us either way, your only choice is if it will be bound and gagged”

Ada just glared at him, until he made a hand-signal to one of his men who procured a rope from the endless pokets around his belt.

Fine” she said, slapping away the rope. Lifting her nose and not minding the blades still on her neck she walked over to her leafcovered passanger, who was still sitting exactly where she had fallen, not having dared to move.

Smiling softly at her Ada held out her arms, which where immediately occupied.

As she held the girl in her arms she was gratified that she could still feel... this.

* * *

Lieutenant Stanford lay in the ditch under one of his dead soldiers and prayed to every deity he could remember, that those things would move along soon.

He was hardly a spiritual person, the only thing he believed in was the sweat on a mans brow, but lying in a hole full of excrements, blood and the dead, with Jeffreys guts spilling on his back, while enemy forces stood no fifteen feet away was enough to get any man praying.

Although the undead fed on the living it didn't seem to be out of hunger, or else they would consume the whole body, usually they only chewed on someone as long as he was alive, leaving him to rot or to turn.

It was more like they wanted to bring death to everything that walked or crawled under the sun and the moons.

Not everyone who died turned, also the time it took for someone to “rise again” was varied, the fastest he had observed so far was just under half an hour, most of them took a day or two, but he had also gotten unconfirmed reports of someone rising after two weeks.

A dozen walkers stumbled over the attacked caravan, looking for survivors, ocassionally stumbling on one and gnawing on him until they stopped screaming. Not a pretty or fast way to die.

Walkers, that's the petname the soldiers came up with for those things.

Damn stupid pricks, only dangerous in numbers.

C'mon you son's of b*****s, move along, just get out of here Stanford thought at them.

As if to react to his thoughts one of the closer ones turned towards him, starting to stumble his way.

Stanfords heart sank, if that thing found him he was dead. Deader than dead.

It was right above him when suddenly a thunderous roar filled the air as a giant mass of bodies stepped into the clearing. It was one of those giants, who appeared to have been stichtched together from several bodies.

The walkers had ducked and turned towards it when it roared, some baring their teeth at it, with another monstous roar they began to move away, clearing the field, moving on to their next target. Their next victim.

The giant monstrosity surveyed the carnage for a moment and exhaled noisily, before following it's minions with heavy steps.

It was interesting to see that they had a chain of command, it told him that they weren't dealing with a random disease, but with an organised attack.

It had been quiet for an hour before Stanford dared to move. Pushing a dead Jeffrey off of him, Stanford crawled to the edge of the ditch from where he had a better view.

It was a damn shame, Jeffrey had been a good soldier, a rough man, but a good soldier. Stanford could remember when they had been invited to court for their service during the Rinari bandit raids, one of the more recent attempts by the Sylvans to weaken Enaes defences by supplying bandits and rebels with weapons and money.

Jeffrey only had an appearance of about five minutes, but it was long enough to make half the nobles faint and the other half blanch and demand his immediate execution. It had been bloody brilliant, those selfobsessed sissys demanding the head of a national hero which of course gave king Roland an excuse to whip their sorry asses.

Well, not phsyically, but still, it had been bloody brilliant.

And now he had to tell Jeffreys wife that he was dead in a ditch with his guts hanging out.

It was a damn shame.

During the raid one of the carts with the wounded had caught fire, the air was thick with smoke and the aroma of burning flesh. He couldn't be sure, but at least his immediate surroundings seemed to be clear.

Stanford pulled himself up and took the sword of the nearest body, he had lost his sometime during the fight, the reason why he had jumped headfirst into the latrines in the first place.

He should be dead, that's what the rule was, you loose your weapon you're dead. Stanford had been a soldier for far to long, for far to many battles, there are no rules, a battle was absolute chaos and loosing his sword had saved his life in this one.

Of course one could argue that being a coward had saved his life, but he would have fought to the death beside his men if he had, had the means.

© 2011 Sens3mann

Author's Note

Still unfinished but still hoping for any kind of critizism.

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Added on November 18, 2010
Last Updated on May 5, 2011
Tags: undead, fantasy, fiction, chapter I, paranormal, zombie, medieval, Chapter 1, chapter one, the undead
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Born: 1991 in Hamburg, Germany. Nationality: German, British. Religious views: Atheism Favourite quote: "The only sovereign you can let yourself allow to be ruled by is reason." - Terry Goodkind. .. more..